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All eyes on upcoming Trump-Putin meeting

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As G20 leaders converge on Hamburg, police brace for massive protests

HAMBURGUS President Donald Trump meets other world leaders at Germany's G20 summit from tomorrow, with conflicts looming over climate, trade and other global issues.

Fears over nuclear-armed North Korea, which successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday, cast another long shadow over the gathering, which will bring the leaders of nations including China, Japan and South Korea to the northern city of Hamburg.

Also attending the summit is Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mr Trump during his working visit from today till Tuesday.

About 20,000 officers will guard the heads of the Group of 20 big industrialised and emerging economies against anti-capitalist protesters, who are greeting them with the slogan "G20 - Welcome to Hell".

Trouble is also brewing at the conference table at a time when the West and Europe are deeply divided, the post-Cold War order is fraying and China and Russia are asserting themselves on the global stage.

All eyes will be on Mr Trump, who has vowed that North Korea's goal of developing a nuclear weapon that can reach the US "won't happen" and has repeatedly pressed China to rein in its aggressive neighbour.

His counterparts are bracing for fresh surprises after he stunned the world by pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate pact, questioned long-standing Nato allegiances and dismissed free-trade principles.

"There is a danger that the summit will lead to polarisation between the US and other countries" on climate change and other issues, said Oxford Analytics economist Adam Slater.

Trade wars are impending as Mr Trump has demanded Germany and China reduce their huge surpluses and his administration has threatened other countries with punitive measures in battles over cars, steel and natural gas.

In the most-anticipated moment of the G20, Mr Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former KGB agent accused of having aided - with hackers and fake news - the ascent of the property tycoon to the White House.

The moment they shake hands is sure to see "an Olympian level of macho posturing between these two leaders, who both understand the importance of symbolism and the perception of being tough", said senior adviser Derek Chollet of The German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Also hanging over the summit will be the bloody conflict in Syria and the frozen one in Ukraine - both involving Russia - as well as the struggle for Middle East dominance between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Mr Trump will also meet Chancellor Merkel, the longest-serving leader and, with Britain's Theresa May, one of two women in the G20 club.

On the streets, up to 100,000 protesters will march in some 30 rallies, creating a security headache in Germany's second-largest city. Police expect up to 8,000 left-wing radicals ready to use violence.

The protesters are a group of environmentalists, peace and anti-poverty activists, united in the belief that the world's elite are failing to solve the pressing global problems.

Said activist Georg Ismae, 25: "We are demonstrating against the G20 because we don't think they represent the interests of humanity." - AFP

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